We get this question from time to time from new users of our site. Here’s the answer:
On every charity’s ratings page, under the section titled, Financial Performance Metrics, is a metric called Program Expenses. That shows you how much of the charity’s budget was allocated to the programs and services that it exists to provide.
For example, Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research spent 90.8% of its budget on its programs and services. This is a good figure. Of the 5,500 charities we rate, the vast majority at least 75% on programs, 10% or less on fundraising and 15% or less on administrative costs.
For those that are new to our site, you should also know that all of the metrics on the charity ratings pages are clickable. And when you do click on them, the resulting pop-up page will give you a definition of the metric and show you how we calculate it. This is what you’d see if you clicked on Program Expenses.
If you want more details about how we rate charities, then you can find all of that under the Methodology or FAQ sections of our site.
Also, if you are new to Charity Navigator then you might enjoy watching the recording of our December webinar. The focus of the presentation was our tips for year-end giving, but the Q&A portion offers a brief overview of our site. We are planning to do another webinar in the coming months which will focus entirely on how to use our site and interpret the ratings data. Be sure to subscribe to our monthly newsletter so you will receive an invitation to participate in the webinar.